A comparison of sediment stratigraphies from nine meadow cores in the Sierra Nevada, California, with fossil pollen reconstructions of paleoclimates shows excellent correlation between these parameters and confirms the results of recent paleoclimatic models. Colluvium and alluvium dominate early Holocene sedimentary deposits, and undoubtedly originated from greater erosion on dry basin side slopes. Fossil pollen suggests that species characteristic of dry microclimates flourished. The transition to peats after ∼4.5 ka is concurrent with increases in pollen of plants that require abundant soil moisture during the dry summer. These results confirm the importance of analysis of the physical stratigraphy of Holocene deposits in pollen-based reconstructions.